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Silverdocs Special Screenings

Tuesday, June 6----The SILVERDOCS AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival begins on June 13th, and has announced a number of Special Event Screenings to compliment its roster of the best of international documentary film.

The New York Times, one of the event's sponsors, is presenting two Times Talks. The first, screening on Friday, June 16, features Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas L. Friedman, whose recent book THE WORLD IS FLAT, pointed to the dangers and opportunities of economic and social globalization. Friedman, who has been an early critic of the Bush administration policy in the Middle East, creates a stir with his latest film, the hour-long documentary ADDICTED TO OIL.

In this sure to be controversial film, Friedman and director Ken Levis take petropolitics, the relationship between oil prices and the power of oil-rich nations, into the mainstream. With gas prices in the United States at record highs and the world supply diminishing, the hot-button film takes on the issues of energy conservation, global warming and the need to explore alternative energy sources. The film deftly explains the interconnecting relationship between energy, national security and geo-political power, and is as timely as today's headlines.

The second Times Talk on Sunday, June 18, is much more whimsical. The Festival will screen the Sundance Film Festival favorite WORDPLAY, a wonderful examination of the craze for crossword puzzles, including a lively and engaging portrait of New York Times Crossword Editor and guru Will Shortz. Shortz and director Patrick Creadon will be present for the screening and after-screening discussion, which leads to the Crossword Puzzle Challenge that will test the audience's intellectual prowess (I will only stand by and observe).

Earlier in the week, on Wednesday, June 14, the Festival will present the stirring documentary THE BLOOD OF THE YINGZHOU DISTRICT as part of its Docs Rx program of documentaries on world health crises. The film, directed by Ruby Yang, is an examination of the long-taboo subject of AIDS in modern China, an epidemic that the Chinese authorities do not want publicized to the outside world. Director Yang, producer Thomas Lennon and Global Health Council President Nils Daulaire will join a panel of notable health experts in an informative panel discussion on the state of global health today.

On Friday, June 16, the Festival presents the world premiere of the political documentary CAN MR. SMITH GET TO WASHINGTON ANYMORE? The film's title is a reference to the Frank Capra classic of 1939, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, which had a memorable performance by Jimmy Stewart as a young senator who takes on the corrupt forces of establishment Washington.

In this modern day version, the film chronciles the campaign of energetic newcomer Jeff Smith, who takes on the political establishment in his home state of Missouri to try and bring back a populist agenda to a Congress mired in rules and regulations. The film's director Frank Popper and the film's subject Jeff Smith will lead a post-screening discussion, sponsored by local radio station WAMU.

Exciting films and discussions await the eager filmgoer as SILVERDOCS draws nearer.

Sandy Mandelberger

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Dates: June 13-18, 2006

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